I like narrow bars. The rectangular kind, with a long stretch of booths on one side and bar stools lined up on the other. Architectural slivers of space with claustrophobic pathways about three feet wide and thirty feet deep.
The more cramped the quarters, the stronger my affection for the joint. I don't know why, exactly, but I do know this: You feel like a fucking champ if you can navigate through a narrow bar on a busy club night. You are goddamn Moses parting a sea of drunk hipsters, because you can't go around -- you just have to push on through, your stiff drink held high like a beacon of shimmering light.
Slim 7 has the right feel, as does Sputnik. The British Bulldog almost has it. But none quite compare to the Lure, with its skinny runway of tile leading from the front door to the DJ booth on the back wall. It's like a glorified hallway that happens to serve drinks.
The Lure is located at 1434 Blake Street, in a space that demands the quintessential LoDo accoutrements: sleek lighting, pricey cocktails, ultra-modern sink fixtures in the bathroom. But since this is also viciously competitive clubland territory, the Lure works hard to find its own, slender niche.
That's where DJ Tim Cook, who heads up Ciao! Wednesdays at the club, comes in handy. "We're definitely not trying to reinvent the wheel by doing something really different," Cook tells me. "We're trying to utilize a night that I would go to, anyway. It has a nice vibe, and it's someplace different than the local haunts."
And Cook knows all about the local haunts. The seasoned DJ was one of the Denver 3 (with DJs Michael Trundle and Tyler Jacobson, before Cook left and it became a duo) who helped launch Lipgloss in its first incarnation at 60 South, then moved with it when it relocated to its stupidly successful current home at La Rumba. It hasn't been an easy ride since Cook split off. Remember his short-lived Monday-night gig at 3 Kings Tavern? Yeah, me either, but you can't fault a guy for trying.
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Now the nightlife vet is flexing his vinyl muscle at Ciao! in hopes of drawing people out of those well-worn Broadway digs and into Real World terrain. The tagline for the night boasts that it plays the "best in Brit rock, French pop and indie," which is mostly true from what I scouted when I stopped by last week. The well-dressed crowd was mellow, sipping moderately priced drink specials ($3 Stellas, $3 Stolis and $1 sparkling wine) as a throng of guest DJs, including residents Cook and DJ Barri Hot, spun an eclectic mix: Art Brut into Hot Hot Heat into Justin Timberlake.
"It's hard to find parking, and the location is weird for people who don't want to mingle with different crowds," Cook says, acknowledging the hurdle of the bro-dude reputation at an address like Lure's. "But I look around and everyone enjoys the music, and that's kind of the glue that binds everyone together.
"I have friends who aren't the 'cool' crowd," he adds, "and for people who are intimidated by that or put off by those overly hipster bars and that kind of scene, it's nice that they can come here and just kind of enjoy the kind of music that they might not normally hear on a night out."
Damn -- if only Moses had known, he could have led his people here.